The benefits of fire-rated glass floor systems are not just limited to the daytime. Through strategic backlighting, films, and frits, design teams can turn these light portals into elegant design statements by night. For example, to achieve
a backlit appearance, the project team can install lights in the ceiling below the system. This allows for light transfer by day, but, at night, the glazed floor surface is illuminated.
While fire-rated glass floor systems meet a complex set of performance requirements, they are not restricted to simple installation configurations. It is possible to install them in circular orientations, as well as vary the geometry of glass floor slabs. One should contact the manufacturer or supplier early during the design process to see what configurations are possible.
Fire-rated glass floor systems do not have to be expansive to be effective. A popular daylighting alternative is to employ individual glass floor slabs. These small portals in corridors or gathering areas can admit light to interior spaces in a more limited manner. This was done effectively in the remodel of La Crema Estate at Saralee’s Vineyard in Windsor, California. Brayton Hughes Design Studio chose to line the perimeter of the main staircase with fire-rated glass floor system segments. The innovative configuration allows the system to draw light from the upper level down to the ground floor while providing critical fire resistance.
In general, individual glass panel sizes for modular systems are approximately 1210 mm (48 in.) by 1270 mm (50 in.). They can be used individually or together to create expansive configurations. If designs call for glass floor slabs in smaller or larger panels, one should contact the manufacturer or supplier to see what is possible.
More buildings with stunning glass floors are announced each year. As technology continues to evolve, a growing number will feature fire-rated glazed floor systems. In order to stay ahead of this trend and learn how to use the material to its full potential, design professionals should contact manufacturers for the latest material specifications. Correct use of fire-rated glass floor systems in structures hinges on codes, performance characteristics, aesthetic goals, and other contributing factors.
|FIRE-RATED GLASS FLOOR SYSTEM CHECKLIST|
|Although there are many factors to consider when it comes to fire-rated glass floor systems, the following checklist can help guide proper specification.
1. Check for adequate fire protection
2. Verify load requirements
3. Consider impact safety
4. Account for slip resistance
5. Consider aesthetics
Jeff Razwick is the president of Technical Glass Products, a supplier of fire-rated glass and framing systems, and other specialty architectural glazing. He writes frequently about the design and specification of glazing for institutional and commercial buildings. Razwick is a past-chair of the Glass Association of North America’s (GANA) Fire-Rated Glazing Council (FRGC). He can be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.